Comedy: Dylan Moran, Village Theatre, New York

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The Independent Culture

Time was when Americans thought that the very height of sophistication in British comedy was Benny Hill. But all that has changed over the course of the past year. People on the other side of the Atlantic are acquiring a taste for British humour that is a credit rather than an embarrassment to this country.

Time was when Americans thought that the very height of sophistication in British comedy was Benny Hill. But all that has changed over the course of the past year. People on the other side of the Atlantic are acquiring a taste for British humour that is a credit rather than an embarrassment to this country.

The Office, our finest - and subtlest - contemporary sitcom just beat Friends and Sex and the City to two Golden Globe Awards. The uproarious Absolutely Fabulous enjoys a huge following on US television, and Eddie Izzard has been wowing live audiences from sea to shining sea.

Now Izzard is acting as a pioneer by encouraging other leading comedians from Over Here to try their luck Over There. He is the driving force behind "The British/Irish Comic Invasion", a four-week-long festival that is currently playing to packed houses in Greenwich Village.

In addition to Izzard, the line-up features such estimable exports as Omid Djalili, Britain's only known Iranian stand-up, the up-and-coming sketch troupe The Hollow Men, and the ever-likable Boothby Graffoe.

A genuine highlight, however, was the Irish comedian Dylan Moran, a man who gives world weariness a good name. His night at the Village Theatre in Manhattan was his first ever New York gig, but he betrayed no hint of new-boy's nerves.

In his show, Monster II, he served up a few titbits to satisfy the local appetite. Admitting at one point that "I'm trying to use as many American words as I can while I'm here", Moran substituted "fries" for "chips'' and "preserve" for "jam". He also elicited a lot of good-natured laughter from the home crowd with jokes that mocked the, er, inflated size of many Americans and the gobbledegook tendencies of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

But Moran was at his strongest when underlining that he is the most magnetic misanthropist that our comedy circuit has to offer. While he could teach New Yorkers a thing or two about kvetching, it is delivered with such panache that you instantly forgive him: his moaning attracts rather than alienates.

He railed, for instance, to memorable effect against the redundancy of many children's charities. He vented particular spleen against Children in Need: "When have you met a child not in need? 'Actually that's enough banoffi pie for me. I'm just going to go and clean the car.'" He may be mean and moody, but Moran is still magnificent.

It's a real pleasure to be able to prove to savvy New York audiences that British and Irish comedy is currently of a very high order. The audiences in Greenwich Village are certainly being convinced of this to judge by the enthusiastic reactions.

Dylan Moran's tour of 'Monster II' continues at the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre tonight (01785 254653)

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